Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

How Cliché: The “E” List

The Early Bird Catches the Worm: the first one there enjoys success. In 1605 William Camden included this phrase in his book of proverbs and it’s become a standard.

Yummy for those who like their early worms

Easier Said Than Done: talking is sometimes more readily done than action. The phrase is also known as sooner or better said than done. The earlier expression appears in the Vulgate Bible and the latter in the 1546 proverbs of John Heywood.

Easy As Rolling Off a Log: not much effort required. Mark Twain gets the credit for this expression from his A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court published in 1889. The expression is similar to Easy as Pie.

James makes log rolling easy

Eat One’s Cake and Have It Too: to have it both ways. Once again John Heywood has this in his collection of proverbs. There is something about how we want to eat our cake but to hang on to it as well. Insert something besides “cake” and it still makes sense.

Every Man for Himself: looking out for oneself. Chaucer coined this expression in The Knight’s Tale indicating if a person didn’t watch out for himself no one else would.

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry: Everyone, especially those in the lower classes. Shakespeare used Tom, Dick, and Francis in Henry IV. The expression can be found in the 1815 Farmer’s Almanac. Even John Adams tried it out in 1818, saying “Tom, Dick, and Harry were not to censure them.”

An uncommonly common trio

What “E” clichés can you add to the list?

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9 thoughts on “How Cliché: The “E” List

  1. petespringerauthor on said:

    Every dog has his day.
    Everything’s coming up roses.
    Eat your heart out.

  2. Every cloud has a silver lining.

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